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August 17, 2010

Summer Practicum in the KSL Manuscript Collection

In July and August the Special Collections Research Center was host to a Kent State University School of Library and Information Science student, Mary Kate Rosfelder, who worked on a fifty hour project with us as part of her practicum in academic librarianship at the Kelvin Smith Library. Mary Kate worked with the Special Collections Archivist to become familiar with basic theory and practice of arrangement and description of rare and fragile items and the scholarly merits of digitizing manuscript materials.

Many thanks to Mary Kate for her dedication to this project. She devoted thought and effort to understanding why we create and maintain special collections in academic libraries and why scarce resources must be used wisely in the creation of digital assets. Her work will be part of a new Guide to the Kelvin Smith Library Manuscript Collection to be released in the fall of 2010.

Mary Kate's assignment involved updating folder labels and finding aid entries for 25 folders, evaluating their content and planning and executing a digitization project plan involving items from those folders. We would like to highlight one of the items that Mary Kate chose for her project - a letter from President Franklin Delano Roosevelt to retired Supreme Court Justice John H. Clarke in 1937.

The Roosevelt-Clarke letter illuminates significant events in the lives of both men. John Hessin Clarke, a Western Reserve University graduate [1877] and trustee, was active in Ohio politics for many years. In the early months of 1937, Clarke spoke out in favor of the Judiciary Reorganization Bill, also known as Roosevelt’s court packing plan. The bill was not enacted into law but Clarke's assistance was not forgotten. Later that year Roosevelt sent the following one page typewritten and signed letter to his friend and supporter:

The White House

September 11, 1937

My Dear Justice Clarke:

Please accept my warmest felicitations upon the
occasion of your eightieth birthday.

One who enjoys long life and yet retains undimmed
the flame of a liberal spirit is indeed to be envied. Many
there are in this country who have been inspired by the
fullness, the purpose and the enlightenment which have
marked both your private life and your public career.

Our jurisprudence is richer for the part you have
played in its development, the cause of social progress
more advanced for the contribution you have made to it.

I extend hearty good wishes for your continued
health and happiness.

Very sincerely yours,

Franklin D. Roosevelt

Honorable John H. Clarke,
El Cortez Hotel,
San Diego, California.

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